by Judith Curry
Earth is in a lot of pain, folks. Time to think about sending it off peacefully, for its own sake. Look, at the end of the day, Earth is 4.5 billion years old and had a great life. The last thing you want to do is wait and draw this difficult ordeal out any further. – The Onion
While trying to find insightful analyses of the IPCC Report in the media, I at least came up with these two, that when juxtaposed, made me laugh but also provide some insights.
Joe Romm writes: Alarming IPCC Prognosis: 9°F Warming For U.S., Faster Sea Rise, More Extreme Weather, Permafrost Collapse. Excerpts:
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) now says we are as certain that humans are dramatically changing the planet’s climate as we are that smoking causes cancer.
So perhaps the best way to think about the IPCC, which has issued a summary of its latest report reviewing the state of climate science, is as a super-cautious team of brilliant diagnosticians and specialists (who, like many doctors, aren’t the greatest communicators). They are the best in the world at what they do — the climate equivalent of the Cleveland Clinic or Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins — where you and the rest of humanity have just gone through a complete set of medical tests and are awaiting the diagnosis, prognosis, and recommended course of treatment. (It has a big waiting room — called planet Earth.)
The diagnosis is that humans are suffering from a fever (and related symptoms) caused by our own actions — primarily emissions of carbon pollution. Indeed, team IPCC is more certain than the last time we came in 6 years ago and ignored their advice. They are 95% to 100% certain we are responsible for most of the added fever since 1950. They explain:
The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.
To clarify the diagnosis, the best estimate is that humans are responsible for all of the warming we have suffered since 1950. You may ask why team IPCC buried this bombshell at the end of a paragraph on page 12 of their report in very dry language. You might think that with a patient who has as serious a condition as we do but who has simply refused the obvious treatment for two decades (!), they might be a tad blunter.
But like I said, communications is not their strong suit and I am afraid that is a terminal condition. After all, they made you get up at 4 in the morning on a Friday to get this diagnosis! Yes, their bedside manner isn’t that great either.
So what is the prognosis? As they told us 6 years ago (and 6 years before that), if we keep ignoring their recommended course of treatment, then, on average, total warming from preindustrial levels by 2100 is headed toward 4°C (7°F).
Of course, for two decades, their patients (humanity) have completely ignored the recommended treatment even though it is quite inexpensive relative to the cost of dealing with the ever-worsening symptoms, many of which are going to be irreversible.
So we have a super-conservative team of doctors who are bad communicators and a patient who, like most addicts, is self-destructive, very bad at listening, and focused on short-term pleasure over long-term health. That is a prescription for disaster.
The Onion carries this to its logical conclusion in Scientists Recommend Having Earth Put Down:
Claiming that it is the humane thing to do, and that the planet is “just going to suffer” if kept alive any longer, members of the world’s scientific community recommended today that Earth be put down.
“We realize this isn’t the easiest thing to hear, but we’ve run a number of tests and unfortunately there’s really nothing more we can do for Earth at this point. Earth’s ecosystems have hung in there for a while, and you have to hand it to the old gal for staying alive this long, but at this point the chances of a recovery are, I’m sorry to say, incredibly unlikely. It might be time to say goodbye.”
“Earth is in a lot of pain, folks. Time to think about sending it off peacefully, for its own sake.”
While admitting that the prospect of saying goodbye to the terrestrial planet is very difficult, letting nature take its course would only prolong the inevitable. [I]f Earth is not put down, humanity would ultimately be responsible for its continuing care, which would be “increasingly difficult as time goes on.”
“Look, at the end of the day, Earth is 4.5 billion years old and had a great life. The last thing you want to do is wait and draw this difficult ordeal out any further.”
“To be honest, there is a chance that had we taken more drastic steps earlier, Earth would have been able to survive for longer—much, much longer, even. But unfortunately, that is now a moot point. Right now, you should just cherish the good times you and Earth had together and give it a gentle and merciful send-off.”
JC comment: I guess the anthropocene is regarded as a terminal diagnosis for the Earth. Maybe we don’t need to put the planet down; perhaps we could just get rid of all the people.